Last night I was listening to “One Way Out,” the old Allman Brothers song, and recalling that I went through something almost exactly like the situation described in the lyrics: “Ain’t but one way out baby, Lord I just can’t go out the door…ain’t but one way out baby, Lord I just can’t go out the door…’Cause there’s a man down there, might be your old man, I don’t know.”
It happened in the Boston area in the ’70s. A guy I was friendly with (not a friend-friend but we hung with the same group and partied together) had gotten married to a fetching but slightly older woman less than a year earlier, and their betrothal seemed to some like a curious, perhaps unwise union. It wasn’t long before things began to go south, mainly due to his immaturity. He would bop around and get high with his friends (i.e., me and the guys) while she mostly stayed home, or so I understood. I’ll be honest — I felt badly about their marriage being shaky only months after the ceremony, but I also saw an opportunity. I was a dog back then…sorry.
So I visited her one day under the pretext that I was looking for her husband. I wound up hanging out in her kitchen and sipping coffee and her serving me an omelette or a sandwich or something. Then I called and suggested a dinner or a movie or a visit to a bar (I forget which) and we did that a day or two later, me asking about the marriage and her saying “well, it’s not going very well.” The third visit is when I made a very gentle move and she reciprocated, etc. It was actually pretty intense. A lot of pent-up energy on her part.
The Gregg Allman incident happened after the fourth visit, which was late on a weekday afternoon. Someone had rung her buzzer so it seemed like the prudent thing to bolt just in case. So I was creeping down the stairs every so quietly and got to the main floor and there was my party pally, sitting on the front stoop of the apartment building. Luckily he was facing the street and didn’t see me or hear me.
So I tiptoed around the stair bannister and crept downstairs to the cellar, planning to hide out for a while until he rang again and went upstairs or left or whatever. I waited for a good 15 or 20 minutes in the dark and then crept back upstairs and he wasn’t there on the stoop. I figured he’d gone upstairs so I took a little chance and slipped out and jogged down the street. Across the river and into the trees, so to speak. I got away with it. We both did. He never found out.
20 or 25 years later I read or heard somewhere that she’d passed from cancer. Naturally I felt a slight pang. I don’t think I did anything hurtful and maybe on some level the little thing we fell into seemed just as good to her as it did to me. I’m not sorry it happened. This might sound predatory but those two times we had were quite earth-shaking. The odd thing is that we probably never would’ve hooked up if we’d just met in some neutral situation. It all happened because she got married. That’s how our paths happened to cross.